America stayed up to see if lighting struck to give the race to a landslide for Biden or Trump. It was not to be. In fact, waking up the next morning did not provide any more clarity to the election outcome. The reality is what we are all beginning to understand—America is clearly divided and will remain so for the foreseeable future.
It could be said that we are settling into the worst possible situation. No matter who wins, nearly half of America will be sure that the result is tainted, and they will be angry. If Biden wins, Trump supporters will feel that Democrats stole the election by changing the election procedures and accepting fraudulent ballots. If Trump wins, Democrats will feel that not all votes were counted, and President Trump used his illegitimate appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to stack the court to give him the election.
It's clear that neither candidate can claim a mandate. Projections suggest that Republicans will keep the Senate and will add seats in the House, but the House will remain in Democratic hands. Again, a divided Washington remains. Some of the seats will change but the divisive division will be as strong as ever.
There are lessons learned worth noting. Polling has again lost credibility. The overwhelming lead by Joe Biden did not materialize. The media’s overtime support of Biden has further turned people into seeking out their own sources for information. There is a Fox News America and mainstream media sources that capture everybody else. Both seem to claim their own data and there is no common source of reliable information that citizens trust.
Who wins? Lawyers and judges are now in control of determining the winner. How and when were the ballots accepted, authorized, recorded, and counted? Will the provisional ballots be accepted and counted? What are the “legal ballots” that should be counted? Will the delayed military votes be counted and make a difference? Will postmarked ballots sent before the election day but received after the election still be counted? The legal battles will be fought on many fronts in many states over many issues. This makes the floating chads in one Florida County that gave President Bush a victory over Al Gore a walk in the park.
On the positive side, the lack of a decision has held leftist rioting at bay in our major cities. Trump has not been reelected…yet. They are waiting. Like the rest of us, they may soon be too exhausted to even respond. Chaos is tiring for all of us!
President Trump was the key catalyst in this election. A slight majority of Democrats voted more to get Trump out than to get Biden in. An overwhelming majority of Republicans voted in support of the president. As a result, President Trump’s final few days of campaigning focusing on why Biden was bad for America may have been a wasted effort. Most Democrats weren’t voting for Biden; they wanted him gone. President Trump missed an opportunity to put his primary focus on promises kept and promises made for his second term. He could have focused on optimism for the future. Instead, he relentlessly attacked his opponent. His negative campaign reinforced what his detractors disliked most about him—his personal attacks. He may have hurt himself more than he helped in his final push.
Getting a final decision will take more time than ever before. We are in overtime. With this chaos possibly lasting days or weeks, no matter who reaches that 270 electoral vote threshold first, that victory will not be certified until the legal issues are answered. What if the legal proceedings are not settled before January 20th? Who will be in office until that is settled? God only knows. As Democrats feared, President Trump will not leave easily unless Biden is certified the winner and the Supreme Court has ruled in his favor. Once again, the winner is chaos!
There will be pressure on the Supreme Court to make the decision well before that date to settle the chaos that is sure to add fuel to the anger citizens will feel. The Barrett appointment has changed the makeup of the court to a conservative majority, but their originalist leaning should also force them to take the Constitution seriously. Not every Republican appointed justice has proved reliable in making partisan decisions when on the Supreme Court. President Trump has already said that he expects this to go to the Supreme Court.
It’s clear that America was engaged in this election. More votes were cast than anyone expected. That is democracy in action. Unfortunately, no matter how that decision goes, it will not end the chaos. Some Americans will be relieved, and the other half will feel cheated and remain angry. Both candidates have talked about bringing America together. That seems increasingly impossible no matter who sits in the Oval Office by the end of January.
Terry Paulson is PhD psychologist, author, and professional speaker on Earned Optimism, Making Change Work, Claiming Your American Dream, and Becoming a Conservative Values Voter. Contact him to speak before your group at email@example.com.